June 2, 2016

     Clinic today was slower than usual so the members of the team remained at their morning positions for the entire day instead of being assigned to a different position at noon. When I first heard this, I have to admit that I was pretty bummed that I wouldn’t get a chance to work with a clinician and would be manning the intake station all day. However, this unexpected change in the day’s schedule turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Since we had fewer patients today and the intake station is the first table the patients come to when checking in to be seen, I was one of the first members of the team to finish my duties for the day. I then helped the vitals table finish checking patients and walked around the clinic to see if help was needed anywhere else. One of the important pieces of information that everyone has learned on this trip concerning a hectic clinic is that “If you aren’t assigned anywhere inside and help isn’t needed, then go outside.” So, abiding to this rule, I grabbed a soccer ball and headed straight for the door.

     I couldn’t even make it ten steps outside before I had a swarm of kids running around me wanting to play soccer. I played with the kids for a long time until I needed to sit down and catch my breath. After a few minutes, even though the humidity and heat was stifling, I couldn’t say no when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and a giggle as I turned to see the soccer star of the bunch holding the ball in my face. Many of the kids warmed up and became more extroverted around me as the day went on so I enjoyed seeing more of their real personalities.

     As the day was coming to a close, I noticed that one of the boys had been eyeing my stethoscope so I sat down on the step with him and showed him how to put it on. Even though he couldn’t understand a word I was saying, I told him that I was going to let him listen to my heartbeat and placed the diaphragm on my chest. His eyes immediately lit up and then he looked up at me, smiled and said “boom-boom.”  Clearly intrigued and proud of himself for hearing my heartbeat, he jumped up and called out to all of his friends to come over. Now with an audience of little boys around, he put on my stethoscope, placed the diaphragm on my chest, and said “boom-boom boom-boom boom-boom” repeatedly to demonstrate the sound of my heartbeat to them. All of the little boys started laughing and of course were begging for a turn of their own to listen to my heart.

     Even though this moment was filled with so much glee, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness as I thought about the limited opportunities these kids have for their future careers. Even if one of these boys grew up to be genuinely interested in medicine, the feasibility of becoming a medical professional is so low. I hope these little boys continue to carry this sense of curiosity with them as they age and find a passion that they can pursue just like every member of our Mercer on Mission team.

Anna Lisa Ciarrocca, Undergraduate Student

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